Can post-traumatic stress disorder be cured?

The far-reaching effect of post-traumatic stress disorder in society is the reason why everyone is beginning to learn more about it.

Veterans return from war in shell shock, and their families can’t recognize them anymore, victims of domestic violence wake up a few years later and snap into a mental state where they seem unreachable, the list is endless.

Statistics has it that the current prevalence of PTSD in the US is equivalent to the entire population of Texas – that’s about 8 million Americans!

Certainly, we all would probably go through one heartbreaking incident at one point or the other in our lifetime.

It’s improbable that anyone will get through adulthood without at least one horrendous memory, but not all develop PTSD.

Most cases of Post-traumatic stress disorder are associated with natural disasters, wartime injuries, rape, vehicle accidents, domestic violence, etc.

Often, victims may not show any symptoms till years later, and others may present with mild symptoms that get worse over time.

Who is most vulnerable to PTSD

If you can accurately recollect a sad incidence, then you can come down with PTSD.

While the disorder is more prevalent in adults, lots of children and adolescents have also been diagnosed over the years.

However, children are not likely to develop PTSD after trauma until much later in adulthood when their brain is well developed.

Although all age groups can be affected, available statistics mostly focus on the adult population. Studies of prevalence in teens show an estimate of 3.7% in teenagers between 13-14 years and about 7% in older teenagers.

More so, men are more likely to present with PTSD than women though the symptoms in women are usually more severe.

The presence of co-morbidities like depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety, and other thought disorders can also predispose a trauma victim to PTSD.

That shouldn’t be a surprise; if a 13-year old that is still struggling to feel accepted by the society or to gain the approval of a parent goes through a rape ordeal or witnesses the murder of their God-figure, we would have a PTSD case in our hands in 5 years.

How to know you have PTSD

Hardly would one come down with post-traumatic stress disorder without a history of trauma.

More often than not, most trauma victims don’t develop PTSD till much later; it could take months, years even.

Other times, the symptoms may start within a month, depending on the severity of the impact on the victim.

The following symptoms are usually suggestive of PTSD in an individual:

  • Intrusive and distressing memories
  • Recurrent and vivid nightmares
  • Severe emotional distress
  • Withdrawal from society and usual fun routines
  • Depression
  • Feeling of helplessness
  • Spontaneous emotional outbursts

These symptoms are, however, suggestive of the disorder not definitive. There’re other parameters that physicians may need to establish before confirming the diagnosis, such as recurrence, duration, history of trauma, presence of chronic illnesses, etc.

Is there a known cure for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness, and like most mental illnesses, there’s no known cure so far. Most treatment options are aimed at managing the symptoms, reducing how often they recur, and helping the individual lead a better life.

PTSD can be managed effectively with a combination of medication and therapy.

And more than anything else, affected persons are always advised to work closely with their healthcare professional if the desired treatment outcome will be achieved.

Therapies are aimed at improving the individual’s symptoms; help them know what to look out for and how to help themselves.

Here are some of the therapies that have proven effective over the years:

  • Group therapy: who is more qualified to know how the shoe hurts than the man who has worn it?
    These groups can feel their pain better than anyone else, and they can also draw strength to fight from the wins of others with similar conditions.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: the approach here is to focus therapy on the natural ability of humans to think logically and provide a rational solution to problems.
    And to measure progress or recovery on the individual’s behavior. 
  • Facility-based therapy: this is fast gaining acceptance in managing PTSD. Several group therapy centers are now inpatient facility where the individuals can stay throughout their treatment or when their symptoms are more severe.
    Some are built like luxurious resorts to ensure their patients can enjoy calmness always while others target high profile individuals who may want to keep their PTSD as discreet as possible

Certain medications, such as SSRI, tricyclic antidepressants, etc., are also used by physicians to manage PTSD symptoms.

Again, it would depend on the severity and level of impairment before your doctor can make the call.

Often, medicines are combined with therapies and can be withdrawn or adjusted as the patient’s symptoms improve. 

What is the prognosis for PTSD?

This can be a bit hard to ascertain because some victims may not develop symptoms until after two decades, while others may take just a week to come down with symptoms.

However, the course and prognosis of PTSD depend on how soon the symptoms present, how mild or severe the symptoms are, and how well the victim responds to treatment.

When treatment is effective, the more incapacitating symptoms can resolve over 1 – 2 years.

In patients that do not receive treatment all, statistics show that only about 30% recover fully, while 10 – 40% recovers with mild to severe symptoms.

Overall, treatment increases the number of recovers, and adolescents may take longer than adults to return to their normal life.

Ways to improve your quality of life with PTSD

No definite cure shouldn’t translate to the end for you, no you shouldn’t let that happen.

PTSD in itself is not the end; it is how much power you give it over your mind that will determine how and when you get out of it.

The question should not be whether or not there’s a cure, rather focus more on how to get the best out of life despite it all.

That said, here are some things that can help you to improve your quality of life during and after any PTSD episodes. 

  • Acceptance: whatever may have happened in the past is not your fault, and there’s little you could have done at that point to prevent it. Accepting the reality may be difficult at first, but it will help you feel less helpless and more willing to go through with the treatment plan.
  • Devise a coping strategy: a lot of people attest that this helps. This is simply you looking out for you. Medications and therapies will help, but you have a huge part to play too.
    Surround yourself with everything that reminds you of the bright side as often as you can.

Indeed, post-traumatic stress disorder can be stressful for the individual affected, their loved ones, and every other person around them.

And nothing could be more timely and life at the moment than a cure, anything finite.

Notwithstanding, the current management approaches and support organizations available have been effective in fast-tracking the recovery process.

Seek professional help when as soon as possible, and whatever you do, don’t shut the door on those that care about you most – they are vital to your recovery.

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